Our vision for Writing at St Joseph's
At St Joseph’s, we are dedicated to nurturing the development of successful and confident writers among our pupils. Our overarching aim is to empower every child to communicate their knowledge and ideas with confidence through their writing. To achieve this, we have established a comprehensive set of objectives to guide our approach to teaching writing. These are underpinned by the pillars of our curriculum: live wisely, think deeply, love generously.
Our primary goal is to create a learning environment that fosters engagement and provides diverse writing opportunities and experiences for our children. We believe that by offering a rich array of writing tasks, we can inspire and motivate pupils to express themselves effectively in a variety of contexts.
We recognise the importance of vocabulary development and spelling proficiency in the writing process. As such, we are committed to ensuring that all children acquire a wide vocabulary and can confidently spell new words by applying spelling patterns and rules learned in our curriculum.
Grammar is a fundamental aspect of effective communication, and we aim to instill in our children a solid understanding of grammar principles. We expect them to apply this knowledge seamlessly to enhance the clarity, accuracy, and coherence of their writing.
Our vision extends to nurturing adaptable writers who can tailor their language and style to suit different contexts, purposes, and audiences. We believe that this flexibility is essential for empowering our children to express themselves authentically in a diverse and evolving world.
To build a strong foundation for writing, we prioritise the development of phonics skills. We view phonics as a springboard that propels children toward fluency in writing, ensuring that they can confidently navigate the intricacies of language.
To facilitate a seamless progression in writing skills, we have meticulously planned a curriculum that builds upon previous teachings. Regular assessments are integral to our approach, allowing us to tailor our instruction to meet each child's individual needs. By consistently monitoring progress, we strive to create an inclusive learning environment where every child can thrive as a confident and proficient writer.
Through these comprehensive initiatives, we aim to instill a love for writing, equip our students with the necessary skills, and prepare them for a future where effective communication is a key to success.
Our Writing curriculum is delivered through daily lessons, using two distinct approaches/resources: The Write Stuff and the Literacy Shed.
‘The Write Stuff’ approach for teaching of Writing ensures clarity about and consistency in skills acquisition of the mechanics of writing. Following a method called ‘Sentence Stacking’, the approach places emphasis on sentences being ‘stacked together’ chronologically and organised to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can then immediately apply to their own writing. Within each genre studied by the children, they will learn to sentence stack, focusing on the style of the author and impact of words and sentences most appropriate for that genre. Throughout the writing process, children edit and redraft their work in response to feedback from their teacher and peers.
The Write Stuff units usually last around 3 weeks, which always includes a final independent writing piece where the children bring together everything they have learned and planned through the sentence stacking process.
When not using the Write Stuff, we use ‘Literacy Shed' film and book units to complement the curriculum coverage and range of genres experienced in TWS units. Children should be transferring their skills and the techniques from The Write Stuff to their other pieces of writing.
Children are introduced to the purpose of the genre of they are writing and made aware of their target audience. They have the chance to discuss their ideas and rehearse their sentences verbally before writing them down. Teachers ensure that they model writing, so that pupils can see exactly how to be successful. When teachers model, they include deliberate errors and show pupils that all writers modify their writing as they are working through their ideas, emphasising that a pupil’s first attempt at writing does not need to be perfect but is a working document and will be changed throughout the process. Adequate time is given to allow our children to improve their work through editing, ensuring that they are aware of the importance of this stage within the writing process.
Within each unit of work, sequenced lessons ensure that prior learning is checked and built upon and that National Curriculum objectives are taught deeply.
Every half term, teachers choose a picture stimulus from Pobble and, following discussion, the children each write an independent piece, which is used for assessment, moderation and demonstrating progress. The same picture stimulus is chosen for KS1 and KS2 so that outcomes can be charted, showing the progression and the impact that our Writing curriculum has on our children.
We aim for children to leave Year 6 with the ability to write using their own style of fast, fluent, legible and sustainable handwriting, as well as other styles of writing for specific purposes. In addition to teaching writing during regular handwriting lessons, we have high expectations of what is being taught and practiced in handwriting lessons will be used in all writing activities. All year groups follow the ‘Penpals for Handwriting’ scheme. It ensures progression through all developmental stages.
Reception to Year 2 use Twinkl Phonics. Twinkl Phonics is a fully comprehensive, synthetic teaching programme. Delivered through the stories and adventures of Kit, Sam and the Twinkl Phonics family, the scheme builds and develops the skills and understanding children need to become effective, independent readers and writers.
To teach spelling in KS2 at St Joseph’s we use the Spelling Shed (part of the Literacy Shed resources). This takes the form of explicit spelling sessions each week, from Year 3 to Year 6. Each lesson has a main objective from the National Curriculum appendix for spelling and a set of words is provided; these words are examples of the spelling pattern.
Each lesson contains a revision section where children will revisit sounds and spelling patterns from earlier weeks in the scheme. The lesson sequence is planned to systematically build upon acquired knowledge.
Teachers and pupils will explore the words of the week. They will examine aspects such as the number of syllables, tricky sounds and the morphology of the words. There are a range of activities used to accomplish this: sorting, syllable maps (orthographic mapping), segmenting, sound buttons, Elkonin boxes, alphabetising, cloze sentences, morphology and etymology.
The Hive online games are designed to be used in school or at home. Teachers assign word lists to each pupil so that they can practise them at home via these online games. This includes the option to play in class with the teacher as part of the learning activities in school.
Research has shown that Look/Say/Cover/Write/Check sheets are ineffective and are often used as a time filler or for handwriting practice. They have no impact on spelling. Research has also shown that as little as 20 minutes per week of word study including discussing spelling patterns, morphological exploration and orthographic mapping can have a bigger impact on spelling than the repetitive daily copying of wordlists.
The implementation of a focused and comprehensive writing curriculum in our Catholic primary school will undoubtedly have a profound impact on our pupils. Through dedicated instruction and practice, our children will emerge with a robust command of the written word, fostering a rich and diverse vocabulary that extends across all academic areas. The emphasis on spelling accuracy and the application of correct grammar will further enhance the quality of their written expression.
Equipped with these foundational skills, pupils will exhibit a capacity to articulate their thoughts clearly, accurately, and coherently. This proficiency in written communication will extend beyond mere mechanical correctness, as students will deliberately and thoughtfully adapt their language and style to suit varied contexts, purposes, and audiences.
As a result of this holistic approach to writing instruction, our Year 6 pupils will meet and sometimes exceed the benchmarks necessary for a successful transition to the secondary curriculum. Their preparedness will extend beyond academic prowess, encompassing a cultivated ability to engage with a wide range of subjects and tasks, setting a solid foundation for their continued educational journey. Through the cultivation of these writing skills in a Catholic educational context, our children will embody the values of clarity, precision, and empathy in their written communication, reflecting the ethos of our school community
The revised National Curriculum 2014 included more rigorous requirements for understanding of grammar techniques. The document below details what will be covered in each year group from Year 1 to Year 6.